This is how we try and face the problem. We laugh, we joke and we keep it as light hearted as possible. Throughout my blog, www.wannabedad.com, I have written about those moments where we have made an active choice to laugh, as the alternative could drag you to a very dark place.
I mean, hanging your wife upside down by her ankles - what’s not funny about that?
We take the view that we are lucky in so many ways. We have good jobs, a lovely house, amazing friends and a brilliant family. To win in all those areas was always going to mean that we would lose out somewhere down the line. You can’t have it all in life. There are many people around the world who have none of the above. We have to be thankful for that, don’t we?
So let me take off my rose tinted spectacles for a moment. Do I think in this way all of the time? Of course not. Somedays I wake up and I hate the world. I look around and see drugged-up lunatics popping out children like they are a human vending machine.
I see parents scream and swear at their kids in the supermarket. I see couples with no jobs, living in squalid conditions, showing off their latest child. The other 12 kids clearly not enough. It seems so unfair that a couple like us are being so badly let down by nature.
On a personal level, it is also difficult to be the source of the problem. My wife married what she thought was a fully working machine, not one that had faulty bits and couldn’t do the most basic of manly tasks - to go forth and multiply. If only she had kept the receipt.
Now, to be clear, she doesn’t look at it in this way at all. From the moment we heard the news, she has seen it as ‘our’ problem. A problem we are dealing with as a team. But lets face it, the media and society as a whole, has a very different way of tackling the issue. I think the general view is to buy a big carpet, a broom and, well….you get the idea.
How many articles do you read about male infertility? How often do you see it talked about? The answer is very little. There are men out there who are suffering in silence, scared to admit that there is something wrong and devastated by their diagnosis. Infertile men are faced with headlines about cocky celebs having ‘super-swimmers’. We are faced with our own mates boasting - “I only have to look at my missus and she is pregnant.”
The other day, a friend of my wifes told her they were cancelling plans for next year as they were having another baby. When she congratulated him, he replied - “Oh, she isn’t pregnant yet, but she plans to be.”Easy for some, eh?
For many, it is as simple as going to the shop or turning on a tap. That is where the main problem lies. It is human nature to hide the fact that you can’t do something that others can. I remember sitting quietly in the corner during mathematics at school. Everyone else seemed to know it all. I was too scared to put my hand up.
As a man, faced with infertility, I feel it is time to raise that hand. I can’t make my wife pregnant and we are relying on science to help us. It might not work. We might not be parents. My mum and dad may not have grandchildren. These are the stark realities of having crap sperm. They are also realities faced by many men across the world.
To compound the misery, we also tackle them whilst being surrounded by pregnant people everywhere. I was happy to hear that Will’s and Kate were having baby number two - but did we really need to run through every other celeb that were pregnant as well? And seriously, how many pregnancy adverts does there really need to be? It honestly feels like the whole world is having a baby except you.
Let’s not forget the constant questioning from friends and family either. I am sick to death of hearing - “when are you two going to have kids?”. One day I will break and give an honest answer - “Actually, we can’t because I am infertile. Two sugars please.” Can you imagine the tumbleweed?
A bit of advice for the non-infertile population - if a couple in their mid-thirties haven’t had kids yet, there is probably a good reason. Get a bit of self awareness and stop prodding that hornets nest.
I want www.wannabedad.com to show men like me that they are not alone in this world. By talking openly and honestly about what I am facing, I hope others can see that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Having ‘super-swimmers’ is a case of good biology. It doesn’t make you anymore of a man. Being a man is actually talking honestly about the problem, trying to keep a smile on your face and being there for your partner.
My sperm might be very low on numbers and swim in circles, but in trying to break through the taboo that is male infertility, as a man, I feel that I am at least heading in the right direction. I just hope others will follow me.
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